Every day I’ve been purposely walking 3 miles–specifically around Seward Park. Unlike my usual stroll around the hood, there are no cars, no decrepit houses, no streets to cross. The water gently laps up against the edge of the peninsula occasionally, prompting me to actually remove my headphones and listen. Covered park shelters turn into company picnics along the way, ducks march around looking for food, children wade cautiously after them. Rain threatens overhead all the time as the World’s Worst Summer Weather continues. Across the way I can see Mercer Island in all its splendor, so close to the park I can almost touch it. I-90 is in the distance, roaring along. To the south I can barely make out Boeing’s manufacturing plants.
My cat is out of food so she’s been eating sushi grade tuna out of a can. The can was a gift from someone a few weeks ago–tuna caught in Kingston, WA. It’s not like I meant to give her this big treat, merely time and forgetfulness has prompted this decadence. Companionably I eat the tuna right alongside her, whole, straight from the container; all the Omega Fatty acids, Vitamin E, and other tuna goodness seeping in. Outside, my tomato plants sag from the weight of the rain. Unhappy, yellowing, some of the leaves are spotted. Green tomatoes dangle next to red ones, I fear they will never come to term.
We have a rooster in our neighborhood, just down the block. He belongs to a family who lives in an unattractive ’snout house’ (the garage is right out in front, obscuring the front door on the side). The rooster and his matronly chicken wives stroll around freely on their property–’cage free’ I believe they call it. Occasionally, he’ll pause from picking at the dirt and let out a classic cock-a-doodle-doo. Then he’ll continue clucking and picking as if it’s completely normal for him to be ‘free as a bird’ in a grungy city neighborhood. Sometimes I’ll hear him while I”m working outside, and believe me, that sucker is LOUD. I’ll fantasize that I actually live in the country, and he is my rooster in my imaginary barn.
None of this is very novel at 5:45am in the morning. I wear earplugs but, alas, Josh does not. Tragically, he’s been waking up at 5:45am all summer long at the rooster’s cue. Part of this is we have our windows open, part of this is that Josh already has to get up pretty early and is tuned in to early morning rising, and part of it is that having an unnaturally loud rooster crowing in the morning is distracting. On weekends this is very hard for my husband: “I spent two years in Brazil living alongside roosters, I can’t believe I’m doing it here in Seattle.”
One time we walked past this house and saw the rooster in question sauntering around his driveway with what looked like a child bride–a very small chicken. Josh immediately launched in to a master plan to bring the rooster down. Perhaps we could borrow someone’s dog and, at an opportune moment, unleash it on the rooster. Or maybe a well placed pellet gun at far range could bring the cock down. I suggested Hobbes–but quickly realized this particularly rooster dwarfed my cat in size.
This morning Josh woke up and yelled, “I’m going to kill that rooster!” He got out of bed, put on shoes, and marched down the street to get the address of the offender. Then he promptly called animal control. Surprisingly, he filed a complaint without any hassle. On Animal Control’s website they go on and on about how neighbors have to work it out themselves. “Have you tried talking it out before bothering Animal Control?” the website suggests. “We are so busy with cock fights, killer pitbulls, and abandoned puppies we don’t seem to have ANY time for barking dogs.” Josh explained that there isn’t much to ‘talk out’ when your neighbor owns a rooster and that he wanted to make an anonymous complaint.
Shockingly, no one else has filed a complaint against these neighbors. Talks are underway about putting together a rooster campaign on the block. (“Tired of rising at 5:45am at the rooster’s crow? Call this number and file a complaint”). The folks down the street have 8-10 business days to respond to our lone complaint. If nothing changes we can file a second complaint. I’m sure if more people called in we’d have greater strength in numbers. In the meantime, I’m very impressed with Josh. My attitude had always been: “Well, the rooster may be loud, but at least he’s not some gang member blasting the bass while washing his car.” Few things erk my husband…and a rooster will do it every time.
Rain…merciless rain beats down while I type. I should have my glasses on. I went back to the eye doctor because the vain part of me wanted him to check out the blob on my eyeball. Well, it’s really UV sun damage from my stint in CO but it looks like someone dropped a booger on my eye. Turns out the only way to remove it is to numb the eyeball and scrape it off with an exacto knife. It would probably come back anyway, as blobs tend to do. Besides, until it covers the pupil there’s no reason other then cosmetic to remove it. Then the good doctor told me to start wearing my glasses more; If not, I’m gonna wear out my eyeballs by the time I’m 45 and start losing my vision. Damn.
It seems that everywhere I turn there is nothing but bad news in the world. Do I need to list the problems? No, I would imagine I don’t need to, anyone who is remotely connected to the internet, tv, or any other news media is well aware of the plethora of tragedies, disasters, and general malaise. In order to cope here’s what I’ve been doing:
1) You may remember my bitch about the crappy iced latte at McDonalds. Well, I found a cheap and high quality alternative: the double tall hot mocha at Costco for $1. I was initially wary, especially since I watched them procure it from a machine without any tamping, grinding, or messing with portafilters. Images of a really horrible burnt latte coming out of an ancient machine at the 7-11 off the freeway came to mind. I’m not even a mocha fan but, well, I was at Costco to get eyeglasses (another really awesome service) and the weather had taken a terrible plunge for the worst. It went from sunny, 80 degrees, pantingly hot temps all the way to raining, 60 degrees, soaking wet pant legs, cold in a matter of hours. This hurts one’s phyche. This means when one is baby-sitting little kids the ‘waste a ton of time’ outside option is out.Therefore, after spending three hours rolling around on the floor with a two-year-old and a 7 month old playing trains, coaching on how to crawl, and reading cardboard books I felt a mocha was deserved. The verdict: not too sweet, rich espresso taste, the whip cream tasted real and wasn’t sweetened. Delicious. (Incidentally, I went to a fancy pants eye frame shop on Fremont hoping to find hip but classy glasses. They came up short. Costco had some of the same frames for 50-60% less AND their hardware prices were much cheaper. Huge score).
2) There’s been a lot of grief aimed at homeowners in Seattle lately: our property taxes are going up, our utilities are going to sky rocket, we’re slowly losing our property values like the rest of the country. Top it off with a 20 cent plastic bag fee that is allegedly going into place January ‘09 (unless they can get it on the ballot–my feelings on this are mixed) and everyone is feeling kinda beat down. So, what little thing did I do to make myself feel like I was shaving down my costs? I downsized my garbage service. Upon further inspection I realized I was paying top dollar for the biggest garbage bin available–despite only dragging the can to the curb every other week. With my militant recycling and painstaking yard waste separation (unlike a lot of locals I actually put in food waste in addition to yard waste) we just don’t have a whole lot to throw out. Yay for minimizing my impact on the world and not filling up landfills! (OK, stop patting yourself on the back you bleeding heart liberal). Therefore, I bumped myself down a garbage can notch and am paying 1/2 of what I once was for garbage service. Depending on how it goes, I can bump down to the “baby bin” which something like 12 oz. We’ll see…we’ll see.
3) Watching the Olympics until way too late and not getting enough sleep. Maybe it’s to avoid the tragedies of our world today, maybe it’s the new flat screen, or maybe it’s because I’m caught up in all the little dramas…but I’ve never watched the Olympics this much in the past. At 11pm I find myself zoning in on male diving champions, transfixed by the newly added bmx biking, and getting all sucked in when Lolo tragically hits a hurdle and misses her chance at getting a medal. Look at how cute Michael Phelps is! Does he have a gf? I find myself googling this question along with millions of other women around the country. How could ice cold Russian-born, American gymnast Nastia Luikin (pronounced Nasty-uh by some announcers) score higher in gymnastics then the super adorable Shawn Johnson? But at least both of them are old enough to compete instead of being super sneaky and putting their best 14 year olds into the competition. Olympics drama keeps me up well into the night.
4) Walking around the Seward park peninsula (3 miles total) as often as I can on my home from work.
5) Eating copious amounts of tomatoes…tons and tons. All from my garden.
After the ‘beach’ we headed back to the city (stumbling past a very nice lesbian wedding with two beautiful brides in dresses on our way out of the Samammish). On a whim we decided to check out the much lauded, frequently touted, wonderfully free, Hempfest. As soon as we got downtown we followed the packs of stoners wearing fake marijuana leaf leis, bikers wearing chaps, and hippies in organic clothing towards the mouth of the Sculpture Garden. In very organized fashion the city’s law enforcement had created one ‘in’ and one ‘out’ entrance for the festival. We shuffled like cows through a maze of gates, the mood cheery and bright.
The maze opened up, bright and sunny to a GIGANTIC festival. Covering three parks, Hempfest was long and narrow, flanked by the Puget Sound and the railroad tracks. It was 5:30pm and scorchingly hot. Everyone was there: Disabled people rallying for medical marijuana, sign language interpreters standing on the music stages translating, pregnant women looking hot and bothered, people with dreadlocks coiled on their heads and drums on their backs were followed by teenagers looking for weed behind the dumpsters. Food booths covered the lawn, packs of people were splayed out on the grass, a really fantastic Guns And Roses cover band was screaming on one of the mainstages. Teenagers walked around with freshly purchased bongs wrapped repeatedly in bubble wrap. It reminded me a little bit of what Folk Life used to be back in the 90’s–all drum circles, interesting people, and earthy food. But this festival really contained an edge, a feeling of danger that I can’t really put my finger on.
“Where is Rick Steves?” I wondered. Turns out we had missed him by an hour. Booth after booth pleaded us to take political action, sign a petition, rally for the masses. The cover band was replaced by an activist yelling about the injustice of our country, how she had taken her right to smoke medicinal marijuana all the way up to the highest court and lost. People pumped their fists feebly in the air and uttered a breathy, “Yeeeaah!” in support of the cause.
After walking around for an hour and gaping, Josh and I went to the water’s edge to cool off. I waded down the rocks to dunk my feet, and I swear, everywhere I looked people were calmly smoking out. People were discreet, no one was waving it around in anyone’s face, the naughtiness was delightful. I looked out at the Puget Sound and watched an Argosy cruise boat filled with tourists slowly putter by.
After Snoqualmie Falls we were ridiculously hot–but not in a ‘complaining, itchy, uncomfortable way.’ No, we were hot in a thawed out, wet-all-winter, basking-in-the-goodness sort of way. Our iced mochas languished in the cup holders, a melting puddle of ice and left over chocolate. We decided to find a good old fashion watering hole, so we set out to find the Samamish River. The first place we pulled into was the marina, and inexplicably we got tripped up on a long narrow driveway, behind a long line of boats attached to trucks waiting to get into the water. This was bad news. I became very grumpy and tried to convince Josh to do an illegal move of turning the car around, going backwards on a one way, on the grass in order to avoid the long line. Needless to say, Josh ignored me. Eventually we crept along and got out of the boat line, stopped a park ranger, and asked for directions to a swimming hole.
Samamish River reminds me of the lakes we used to visit growing up in Vancouver: Large, filled with people, parties, kids with floaties, the works. The place was packed but not unbearable. The water was suspiciously murky, filled with green stuff that coiled around our legs as we waded in. Instead of sand, there were rock between our toes. Boats and people on those motorized water scooter-thingies roared around the lake making a ton of annoying noise. The place was not peaceful, but it was sunny and hot, the water felt really good. We found a trail that led to another little beach with real sand, but people had somehow managed to drag their boats up to it, and every few paces you had to avoid someone banging on the stern or fixing a piece of their ship. Josh was working on a really terrific sunburn; I hooked my bra straps under my armpits to try and improve my tank top lines. Josh hiked up his sleeves–something we would have been embarrassed to do in Colorado–and his shoulders started to freckle.
Typically we spend our wedding anniversary at the Oregon coast. This year we found ourselves doing it differently: How many places can we squeeze into one day? This became the Day Trip Extravaganza that was our 5 year anniversary celebration. Done during record breaking temps of 90+ degrees (we laughed when the radio advised us to ’stay indoors’ due to a smog warning–I mean REALLY, who would ask sun deprived Seattelites to do such a thing?) we set out at 9:30am.
Sometimes I feel down about where I live. When this happens I try and tap into a mental list of things I love: the breakfast place down the street is at the top. Cheap, fast, never crowded, 1/2 a block from the water. Josh and I headed over there for pancakes and eggs. The only downside was that their normally wonderful black coffee tasted obviously flavored. YUCK. The lesbian couple beside us confirmed that they also tasted a flavor. BLEH. We went to Safeway for cash and iced Starbucks coffee.
Then we had a few false starts: I had looked up a farm that was recommended off of our real estate agent’s fancy website. The farm turned out to be nothing but a glorified fruit stand. Josh and I are not confident enough to pull up to an empty rural parking lot and poke around. We like our farms touristy and filled with people. We past up the farm. Then we looked up a winery nearby–I love wine tastings in the morning! The ‘winery’ turned out to be in a strip mall next to Ikea. How is this possible? Again, we like our wineries bustling, rural, and with a huge wine barrel motif. We passed up the faux winery and headed out to Snoqualmie Falls.
By this time the temperatures had increased, the ice in our coffee had melted in our cups, and the sun roof was open. The Falls were predictably full of tourists, including a wedding party. We could have walked down the “warning: steep incline,” path for several miles to get to the bottom of the Falls. If it hadn’t been 90 we would have considered it–we even brought sneakers just in case. The problem was imagining walking back up, the heat becoming stifling despite the explosion of the Falls nearby. Someone had altered a sign, “No Dogs Allowed” to “10 Dogs Allowed:”
We headed over to the Railroad museum which was tiny: One room with a few placards explaining the process of shipping across the rails. Wooden crates stood bunched up in a corner, an old stove (“this is an example of something that would have been shipped to a household during the railroad era”), and a guide to swinging your lantern (‘Two swings means ’slow down’ to the engineer!’). A 70 minutes train ride was available for 10 bucks…I was into it, but Josh had visions of being stuck on a hot stuffy train without a bathroom for too long. We went to the Snoqualmie Brewery instead:
I’m not a beer drinker…however, I’m a sucker for beer samplers. I love getting multiple baby-sized glasses of beer–a pint is too intimidating. Josh and I are well matched for samplers: he loves all the ales and I go straight for the dark brews. Anything that tastes too hop-ey makes me scrunch up my face. Deciding we were finally hungry after our large breakfast (which combined with the heat has made us feel full for a long time) Josh and I ordered the jumbo nachos to accompany our beer. This was taking a page from our early years together in Colorado. Back then we used to split a plate of nachos at every happy hour in town, and, because it seemed required, I tried to drink beer. The nachos at the Snoqualmie Brewery were huge but low quality. They left us with a full, sickly feeling. The two of us stumbled to a local park and lay on the grass near a display of the region’s largest cross section of a log. The stump was huge, ancient, and much admired by tourists with mullets.
Josh observed some local teens spitting, talking, and causing trouble in the park. Their sense of fashion was really poor: a large kid was wearing an oversized dress shirt, baggy basketball shorts, white socks, and Sketcher-brand sneakers. Josh wondered what would happen if you put that Crime of Fashion into a Seattle teen scene. I noted that another Crime of Fashion would simple occur: chubby teenagers in lycra stretch jeans that tapered at the ankle with slip-on sneakers. Poor fashion is all relative. And I know we sound like the worst city slickers going out into the Snoqualmie region with our fancy pants opinions but, seriously, you would agree that the local fashion was bad.
Earlier in the day, I stated that I wanted to do nothing but drink coffee all day, eat food, and be as decadent as possible on my anniversary. So, despite being full of beer and nachos I decided I had to support the local coffee shop. It advertised a $2 mocha and I was not disappointed. The place was cute, local newspaper articles on the wall touting the shop’s support of the local Snoqualmie art scene, a place for kids to color, a nice cross breeze shining through the front and back doors. Aaah. I sucked down my iced mocha in no time, envying Josh for savoring his.